Banyan Tree Samui is set in a beautiful hillside location on Koh Samui and all the Thai-style villas have their own infinity pool, while Thai silks are used to furnish the interiors with decorative touches including cushions and ceiling drapes. The one thing that really wowed me here was the hydrothermal therapy facility at The Rainforest Spa. It can be booked by the hour and it’s great for singles or couples alike. The Vitality Pool, with its jets, is incredible and guests do a circuit including an ice fountain and hot stone baths. It’s really beautiful and quite unique. It’s a beautiful hotel all round and if a beach is important to you, there is a lovely little one with rocks at either end making it a good sheltered spot for snorkelling. There are also a few small rocks on entry, but beach shoes can be provided if you need them, while water sports facilities include kayaks and sail boats. If you wish to explore the island further, diving can be arranged at the incredible Anthong Marine Park, or there are waterfalls to discover and I can recommend the 4WD Safari which takes you along a rather bumpy, steep road to the highest point of the island. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but the views from this spot are superb, so don’t forget your camera.
I also visited Phuket where my home during my stay was Paresa, which is also set in a quiet location and is surrounded by lush vegetation and rainforest. All guest accommodation here is built on stilts and is staggered down the hillside. Each villa has its own pool and mine was amazing. It extended from outside and wrapped around the indoor bathroom area, that came complete with two spa beds and steam/sauna room, with your bath − that you can access by a little walkway − right in the middle. It’s so impressive. The villa also had a television that revolved so it could be watched from my day bed, or my actual bed. The General Manager, Dawid, is an ex Wine Lecturer so you can be sure of an excellent wine list here and I also got to try some Sake during my Sushi and Sashimi cooking lesson. The Chef made it look so easy, but there is a real art to making these tiny pieces of culinary magic. I can also recommend the Heritage Walk. The excursion left the hotel at 6am and took me to the fish, meat and vegetable market which was a feast for the eyes, before I enjoyed breakfast at one of the oldest dim sum establishments on the island. Dining with the locals before they ventured to work for the day was a really authentic experience. For even more culture, I visited Old Phuket which has many temples, including the most famous, Wat Chalong. Do also make time to watch a Thai kick boxing match − it’s such an exciting thing to see.